Like vertical farming, veganism can help lower global environmental emissions. Here’s how both can work together.
Since launching in 2014, Veganuary has gone from little more than a conversation over dinner to a worldwide campaign covering 228 countries and territories. The initiative encourages participants to try a vegan diet throughout January, providing recipes, hints and tips, and meal plans to help make the switch.
As well as the potential health benefits of a vegan diet, there are also environmental ones. At present, our food systems are responsible for roughly a third of greenhouse gas emissions, while studies have shown that plant-based diets can lead to 75% less harmful emissions than omnivorous ones. The ties between a plant-based diet and the positive effects it can have on the environment are well documented, and that makes movements like Veganuary and Meatless Monday all the more important.
We’re passionate about the impact our vertical farming technology can have in the fight against climate change. We’ll leave dietary choices to the individual, but in the spirit of Veganuary, we called upon members of Team IGS who are either vegan or have dabbled in veganism to offer some tips to anyone taking part, along with an insight into how vertical farming fits into the equation.
Why Veganuary is important
IGS’ Mechanical Engineer Arran Williams has been vegan for over half decade and is a strong advocate for Veganuary.
“I think it’s important to raise awareness of what can have a big impact on the world. If you have an initiative running for one month, communities form around it, and you can get involved with friends or family. Veganuary is a fun way to do something we know for a fact can make positive change, and can really benefit the environment,” Arran tells IGS.
CAD Drafter, Paul Morris, follows a largely plant-based diet: he has been vegetarian for eight years and has recently made further changes.
“Veganuary is interesting,” Paul begins. “It not only encourages people to try things out, but brings about wider discussion. From a business perspective, it gives companies a new idea or area to focus their marketing on (a bit like Christmas or Easter, but minus the turkey or Easter eggs!). Companies like Greggs have had huge success with products such as vegan sausage rolls – it's a massive market and initiatives like Veganuary make it easy for companies to tap into it.”
How to eat more plant-based meals – in January and beyond
“I’d recommend that people find easy, vegan recipes they can go to during the week,” says Arran.
“Make a commitment to try one new recipe a week – once you start to do this you’ll realise it’s much easier than expected. You could even do something as simple as making the same meal (something like fajita wraps, or spaghetti bolognese, for instance) and swapping out the meat for some kidney beans or tofu. There’s almost always a plant-based equivalent for common meals, so eating vegan can be a lot easier than you think.”
“One really nutritious recipe you could try is called a Buddha bowl. You could have it with one carb (like rice), some greens (kale is always a safe bet), and a source of protein (such as tofu or beans). It’s easy to mix this up and try different things each week.”
As someone who is lactose intolerant, Paul has been surprised by how many commonly-used household products aren’t suitable for vegans.
“Read the ingredients of whatever you are buying,” Paul says. “You’re hard-pressed to even find an antihistamine which doesn’t contain lactose products, so I’d definitely recommend browsing before you buy.”
“When looking at vegan products, I’d say not to be put off cheese that doesn’t melt! There are good vegan cheeses, and there are bad ones – the trick is knowing that they won’t always taste identical to their dairy equivalents.”
How produce grown in an IGS Growth Tower can support Veganuary
“Like much of what people eat for Veganuary, produce grown in an IGS Growth Tower is environmentally friendly,” Paul continues.
“The nature of our technology means there is no surface runoff or harmful residue from fertilisers, which can be damaging to rivers. Eliminating surface runoff isn’t specific to veganism, but the crops produced as a byproduct (through vertical farming technology) go hand-in-hand with it.”
Where vertical farming fits into a wider equation
Like Veganuary, our Growth Towers can work to lower the environmental impact of global food systems. A 12-metre IGS Growth Tower, for instance, doesn’t use any fossil fuels and has a growing area of over 520 m², with just a 41 m² physical footprint. On top of that, they can be located anywhere in the world, bringing the food closer to the consumer and drastically reducing food miles (this is pivotal, especially when considering that global miles account for nearly 20% of total food-system emissions).
Our tech solutions can also be used to grow crops which are staples of many vegan dishes. Think of a delicious tomato and basil soup, a succulent chickpea curry adorned with coriander, or a creamy kale and pesto pasta.
We like to think we slot in nicely to a greener world, where the food industry works to preserve biodiversity, lower emissions, and guarantee supply (we could even toast that with a botanical gin, beautifully garnished with some vertically-farmed mint).